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How To Dry Flowers

Dried flowers are becoming increasingly more popular. Personally, I have quite a large collection in my studio. If I have pieces or blooms left over from an order or I have done some foraging, they are immediately turned upside down and hung for drying and using at a later date.

How to Dry:

You’ll need a space that is dark and dry, and preferably warm (or hot!).

Perhaps you have a warm, dry attic that you can use or can clear out a closet in your home or studio. You’ll want to avoid spaces that are too damp or have any direct sun exposure. Sun can very quickly fade the beautiful fresh colors of your drying blooms, and moisture can slow drying and cause flowers to mold. If necessary, you can add heat or even use a dehumidifier if you can’t find a location that fits the criteria perfectly. Also, drying flowers can take up a lot of room, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when choosing the right space for your operation. However, once your flowers are dry, you can store them in clean, dry boxes to save space and make room to start drying more bunches!

DRYING

There are a few different techniques for drying flowers, but I mainly use the simplest of them: hanging bunches upside down to dry in my studio. You can create a rack or like me use old ladders hung from the ceiling. Get creative with the tools you have and make sure to leave enough space around the bunches to allow for sufficient air flow.

Remember the key factors for success with drying: darkness, dry conditions, and (preferably) warmth.

In the right place, your flowers should dry relatively quickly. It’s hard to give an exact time frame, so check them after about a week and see how they’re doing. You can tell if your flowers are dry by merely bending a stem- if it bends easily, feels supple and doesn’t break then it’s not dry enough yet. It should snap, not bend. When they’re dry, you can store them in boxes, separated by tissue paper. Flowers can re-absorb moisture even after they are totally dry, so storing any boxes or bunches in a dry place is of the utmost importance. The same goes for any finished products as well.

There are so many great flowers that can be dried: here are a few of my favourites.

Misty Lavender is to die for!  Harvest when 90% of the flowers are open- almost to the top- with a few still unopened buds at the top.

Strawflower are available in lots of colors, with Apricot/ peach and Slivery Rose being my favourites. Be aware, If the center is too developed they will often start going to seed and the centre becomes a puff of brown and looks much less attractive.

Statice offer lots of colors. The vibrant blues and purples of statice are unmatched in any other dried flowers.

Love in a Mist makes a great dried bouquet filler.

Wheat: There are many kinds of wheat available including many fun heirloom varieties and bearded wheat (Triticale), which is actually a hybrid between wheat and rye.  Wheat can be cut either when the heads have just developed to get a more green colour, or left until it has matured further and has started to turn golden.

Lavender: one of my favourites. Need to be hung in their prime after just being picked.

French Lavender

Hydrangea: dry beautifully and have an incredible range of colours from green through to pink and blue.

Pampass Grass: Dries easily. Best done as soon as they bloom and not at the end of their life. Use hairspray to stop seeds flying everywhere. Wait for the pampas grass plumes to be fully developed but not shedding. … Spritz the plumes with hairspray, coating them evenly to stop shedding.

Billy Buttons: or Craspedia. Soooo easy to cut and dry. Easiest of all these babies.

Annual Ornamental Grasses and Grains:

  • Amaranth
  • Austrostipa
  • Broom Corn
  • Cress, persian
  • Flax
  • Fountain Grass
  • Frosted Explosion Grass
  • Feather-Top Grass
  • Hares tail grass or Bunny Tail Grass
  • Oats, Wheat and Barley

Annual Flowers:

  • Ageratum
  • Celosia
  • Craspedia
  • Scabiosa, Star Flower
  • Statice Suworowii
  • Winged Everlasting

Perennial Flowers and Shrubs

  • Echinops, Globe Thistle
  • Eryngium, Sea Holly
  • Hydrangeas
  • Ornamental Oreganos
  • Roses
  • Yarrow

Enjoy creating wreaths, bouquets, cake toppers, corsages and many other amazing creations with everlasting flowers and grasses.

Some examples of my work below.

Cake topper includes silk and dried flowers.
Everlasting Wreath with Gum, Strawflowers and Native Grasses
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From Market to Bouquet

One of the things that I enjoy the most about being a floral designer is choosing the blooms that are going into the bouquet or installation. Here are a few photos I took  after I arrived home from the Flower Market in Silvan.

Once I get home, the blooms are stripped of all excess foliage. The stems are cut and plunged into vases full of clean treated water to hydrate these little babies. Those that need to be cooled are popped into the fridge. Sometimes it takes half a day just to select and prep the flowers and foliage. Then the design process starts.

 

Don’t forget Grasses and Texture

Often I will select flowers two or three days before design.  This will be to give blooms a chance to hydrate and open so they are nice and full

These two bouquets are  for a photo shoot at Bramleigh Estate in Warrandyte.  

I am not ashamed to say that I love colour.  I absolutely can do fully wired and traditional bouquets.  I am a second generation florist so I can craft many different decades of designs.  However, I was able to have a bit of fun with this project so my own particular style of colour, texture and whimsy came to the fore.

The bouquet on above is made of White O’Hara and Pink Mondial Ecuador roses along with Peppercorn, Ruscus, Snow Berry and Hydrangea and Peony.

 

 The bouquet below is a whimsical loose design with dyed wheat, sedum, celiosa, hydrangea, emille,  tweedia, peppercorn berries and foliage, gum foliage, pampas grass, native grass, seeded gum, Pink Mondial Roses and pale pink peony roses.

 

I would love  to design your wedding or next floral event.  To find out more email me on Lisa@yarrablooms.com

 

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How to Make An Everlasting Flower Crown

How to Make an Everlasting Flower Crown

I recently received a phone call from a good friend who was going to a hens weekend and they wanted to have some fun making flower crowns.  However, as they were going down to the Great Ocean Road, it was a bit far for me to go and run a workshop.  So I put my brainstorming hat on and thought.  How do I make this work.  Flower Crowns can be a little tricky to make so I had to solve these problems.  

1:  How to make it easy for a novice

2:  How can the flowers transport and still look amazing.

3:  How do we navigate the need to wire fresh flowers

Solution:  Glue and everlasting and silk flowers.  The silk and everlasting flower ranges today are so advanced and beautiful.  I decided that I could make up kits using these elements and they would travel perfectly.  This also meant that the girls would not have to wire or tape fresh flowers.

The main ingredient in this project must be FUN.  You don’t want to get bogged down in technique.  So I will step you through the Flower Crown Kits that I am making for the Hens Weekend.

In this kit you will receive: 

  • Floral Glue (you can use a glue gun if you have one)
  • All blooms and gum foliage
  • Pre wired and taped head piece template.
  • Florist tape
  • Ribbon
  • Instruction Booklet.
  • You will need to provide your own snips.

For enquires about prices and ordering Everlasting Floral Crown Kits please email Lisa.

lisa@yarrablooms.com

 

 Before you Start:  

Lay out all of your items.

Make sure you have a piece of paper towel or paper plate to keep glue contained.

Step One:

Attach small sections of foliage to the head wire…  

Use a ‘warmed up’ small piece of florist tape to attach the foliage onto the head wire.

( You can warm it up in your hands, I pop it in my bra while I am prepping…lol)

Technique:  Wrap, stretch and turn. 

Do this the entire length of the head wire. 
 

Step Two:  Now do the same thing with the Emile.

Set out your pieces.   

 

Take small pieces of Emile and tape OR glue along  the head wire from start to finish.

 

Don’t worry too much at this stage  …….. breathe.

These first stages are to create a base which will hold the blooms that we put on at the end.

You can go back later and trim things off or add more onto the wire base if you need to. 

Step Three:  You will receive  one long piece of silk wisteria.

Cut it onto smaller pieces.

Go ahead and tape or glue the wisteria pieces to the head wire.

Step Four:  The largest bloom.

  • Think about where you want the bloom to  go.  
  • This is your largest bloom so I suggest you hold the head wire up to your head and imagine where the bloom will go.  
  • It will probably sit best toward the back of the wire so that it is sitting over your ear. 
  • Take the large silk rose and dob a lot of glue onto the back of the bloom.  
  • Press it onto the head wire.  
  • Tip it upside down so the weight of the head piece holds it in place.

 

 

 

Step Five:

  • Place a bit more glue on the back of the headpiece.  
  • Bring a flap of the rose around the wire and glue to the back of the bloom.  
  • Press firmly
  • This will give it more stability

NEXT:  Take A break

  • It Should be starting to look like this.

Step Six:  Smaller Blooms

  • Place your paper daisies and statice out for the next step.  Decide where on your head piece you would like to place them.  
  • I suggest you do the paper daisies first and use the statice last to fill any gaps.

Step Seven:  How to Glue your smaller Blooms

  • Turn the paper daisy up side down and place a generous dob of glue on the back of the bloom.
  • Press firmly onto the area on the headpiece you would like it to go.  
  • Hold it for a few seconds.

TO FINISH

  • Hold it up and look for any gaps.
  • Glue in place any blooms or foliage that you have left over.
  • Snip off any bits that could prick you.
  • Take the ribbon and thread through the loops at the back of the head wire.
  • Put on your gorgeous head and take a photo please…..and tag @yarrablooms

I used my Unicorn as a model.  My test headpiece will sit in my Granddaughters nursery.  Too Cute.

 

 

 

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Floristry Before Oasis

floristry before Oasis

 I find it very hopeful  today that more and more florists are moving away from oasis, plastic and other non biodegradable products.  Many floral designers today are trying to find ways to do their craft in ways that are safer and kinder to the environment.  I decided to sit down and interview my mother about floral practices before oasis and plastic to find out how they did it. 

My mother became an apprentice florist in Melbourne in 1945 at the tender age of 13.  She was pretty annoyed at her father for taking her out of school. She loved learning.  One day her father simply announced that tomorrow she would be starting a job at ‘Eileens Art Florist’ in Abbotsford as junior florist.

The war had just ended and as the eldest of 5 children, Lauris had to help the family put food on the table.  The luxury of a formal education was not to be hers.

I set this scene to help you understand what the circumstances were like back then.  Life was slower.  People were struggling financially and trying to re-build their lives. There was also a lot of celebrating.  Dances and balls were a common form of entertainment and a way to meet people.  Dances also require corsages and mum recalls that wiring flowers was one thing she learned to do straight away to help the shop keep up with all the corsage orders.  Also – there was no floral tape back then so the wiring technique was different to the way it is today.

Q & A  

Mum how did you make wreaths for funerals if there was no oasis or styrofoam?

She describes a technique using chicken wire and damp moss.

Boxes of damp moss would arrive from the Dandenong Mountn\ains in Melbourne east.  As an apprentice it was her job to make up a frame of chicken wire.  She would then stuff the moss into the chicken wire.  After that she would cover the chicken wire wreath with neutral toned crepe paper which would stop the moss from falling out.  

Fresh flowers would then be pushed into this arrangement.  The moss providing a damp water source for the flowers. 

 

 

 Mum – describe a florist in the 1940’s in Melbourne.

“Well,   we did not make the large bouquets and arrangements that you do today.  In fact we didn’t really make any arrangements.   People would come to the shop to purchase flowers,  mostly bunches which we would tie with paper and string.  Or they would order corsages, coronets or hair pieces for dances or parties.   We did a lot of wedding flowers.  And mostly we wired, we wired everything.  Wiring was the biggest tool of the trade.  There were never any arrangements made up in the shop. We only made up orders.

We used very small tiny flowers like hyacinths, violets and Lilly of the valley.  Floral art was mostly small and very delicate.  

Flower Coronet as pictured here.

We did not make hand tied bouquets.  All bridal bouquets were fully wired.  We did make posies but they were made of tiny flowers and were quite dainty and small.  Other florists used posy holders, but I didn’t like them.  They took away from the flowers.  

“My favourite posy was made of forget me nots, violets and mignonette flower'”.

 

 

Q & A

Mum what flowers did you use and where did they come from.

“In the 40’s times were hard.  We did not have the vast array of flowers that you do today.  We certainly did not import flowers and there were not exotic varieties.  Mostly garden flowers.  In fact women from around the area would bundle up daphne, or violets into little bundles and bring them in and ask if we would like to buy them.

Farmers would come in from the farm to the shop and they would have flowers in the back of their vans.  We would choose what we wanted from the van.

These were the flowers we used:

Gladioli, delphinium, dahlia, azaleas, hydrangea, arum Lilies, maiden hair fern, snap dragons, gardenias.  Slipper Orchids were the only orchids you could get.  Violets, poppies, Iris, daphne, daisies, forget me nots, lily of the valley, gum and fern.  Of course roses.

Azaleas were soo hard to wire but they looked so pretty in corsages.

 

When mum turned 17 she began to work for Marge Milner at Milners Florist in Bridge Road Richmond.  Mum is pictured here at 17 – she had just won the job interview and was walking down the street when a photographer stopped her and asked to take her photo.  

Mum met my father at Marge Milners.   My dad  Joe was Marg’s brother and used to help out with deliveries and orders.  He asked mum on a date and the rest was history.

Q &A

Mum, while working at Aunty Marg’s what sort of flowers would people order?  If there were not oasis bowls etc what did you make?

“We used a lot of baskets.  Flat baskets.  We would lay the flowers in the basket like a bare stemmed sheaf and just tie them in with a bow.  They were very pretty and we would wrap ribbon around the handle of the basket and place large bows over the stems.   We also sold flowers which were arranged in pressed cardboard vases.  AND corsages, shoulder corsages and ribbon wrist corsages.  I used to stack the corsages in the basket on my bike and deliver the corsages to all the men in the local factories who had orders flowers for dates and dances”.

This is a photo of my mother on her wedding day wearing a small floral headpiece and a stunning hand wired bridal bouquet.  She was 20

 

Flower Care in the 1940’s

Hydrangea:  We would place the stems on a brick and smash them with a hammer and then plunge them into water.  We did the same with Lilac

Poppies:  We burned the bottom of the stems after giving them a good cut Dahlia:  Cut on an angle and then sit in about 3 inches of boiling water for about 20 min then into room temperature water. 

Roses:  Cut on an angle and sit in about 3 inches of boiling water for about 10 min and then into room temperature water. 

Eventually mum and dad began their own business.  First in Collingwood and then in Preston and many other areas.  Eventually wreaths were made with styrofoam wooden pegs and wired flowers. In 1958 Oasis was invented and plastic became widely used.  Cellophane took the flower world by storm in the 1960’s and the rest is literally history.

 

I hope this helps give a little peek into how things were done not so long ago.  It seems like we have come full circle and are now looking at ways to reduce the use of plastics and items that are not good for our planet.


My mother is 88 this year.  I have a big wedding coming up in May and she said that she will put a few days aside to help me.  

I have loved learning from my mum and my dad.  My brother, sister and myself have all owned and operated our own businesses.  We have seen huge changes in the floral industry but one thing remains.The incredible joy and beauty that flowers bring and the memories they create.

 The Earth laughs in flowers:  R Emerson

 

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Whimsical Enchanted Wreaths

Whimsical enchanted Wreaths

Whimsical “playfully quaint or fanciful, 

 appealing and amusing”.

 

By Lisa Hunt-Wotton

That is exactly what these wreaths are.  Quaint, appealing and they last forever.  That is why they are also called ‘everlasting wreaths’.

These wreaths are for sale from my studio and start at $60.00 for a small 32 cm wreath.  You can order a bespoke wreath by emailing me lisa@yarrablooms.com.  The finished product in this post is about 55 cm and is currently for sale for  $150.00.

I thought I would take a few minutes to show you how to make one.   It is a lot of fun and doesn’t take too much trouble.

Step One:  You need a hoop.  You can find all sorts of sizes at Spotlight.  

When I need a particular size I make my own out of branches and twisted willow , as seen below with this huge amazing piece I made for a client in Warrandyte North out of gum misty blue and silk peonies.

Large Hoop Installation with Silk Peony’s

Step Two:  Choose some eucalyptus gum which dries beautifully.  In this example I have chosen three types of gum.  A common green gum, a pale sage dollar gum (the round leaves make great contrast) and a seeded gum (which of course has the amazing delicate seed pods attached.

Step Three:  Set out the seeds, nuts, grasses, flowers and other bits and bobs you have collected.  These are things that I have collected over the last few months and dried out in my studio. You can use all of these fresh and they will dry out in time with the gum.  Statice works well as does gypsophila, billy buttons and wheat.

 

In this wreath I have used:  misty blue, paper daisies, several native grasses and some  dried dock weed.  (don’t faint – I like the color and texture).  

Step Three: Cut the foliage into about 6 inch lengths (as shown above)  and weave in and out of the hoop.  You can wind dodda vine around the hoop first which is what I did.  This is not crucial but it does provide a great base to hold the stems as you weave them in and out.  You can also use a glue gun to stick some of the first pieces onto the hoop.  OR you can use wire and attach the gum to the hoop.

Once you get started you will get going – it’s pretty easy.

 

Step Four:  Start to add in the longest pieces of your dried grasses and flowers.  I have clumped pieces together here,  and used a dollop of glue to hold it in place. 

I have chosen to only decorate a third of the wreath but you can be as creative as you want, do the whole wreath if you wish.

 

Step Five:  Play and have fun as you decorate and add all the whimsical pieces of your creation.

   

Ta Dahhhhhhhhh…..  Find a big gorgeous bow to tie to the top and hang up your Whimsical Wreath.

 

Fresh Flowers:   You can of course use fresh flowers.  We do this all the time especially for weddings and events as seen below in this forest themed wedding.  They can make fabulous back drops and look amazing.  Today many brides are choosing to small hoops instead of bouquets in their wedding party. 

  

 

The photos above are of an Enchanted Forest Party.  Raffaella hired my wreaths for her children birthday party.  Definitely whimsical and definitely enchanted. 

Designed by Raffaella  from  Indi and Bear.   

 

For more information on up coming wreath workshops, or if you would like to order a wreath.  Contact me on lisa@yarrablooms.com